2016 so far…

Since my last post (almost a year ago, ouch…), we’ve visited Maine, NYC, Japan together and are finally circling back around to getting this house presentable.

We’ve have a handful of family visits just in the past 6 weeks, so we’ve been working overtime to get our yard and guest rooms up to par.

We are now the proud owners of 6 small boxwood bushes, 3 fully-mulched flower beds, 2 porch topiaries with pots, a recently-trimmed 15ft. camellia bush, and a new trash can. It’s a super smart trash+recycling can, so I can’t contain my excitement.

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On the bright side, our yard looks great and you can tell all the afternoons we’ve put in are starting to pay off. However, like most home owners know, the work will never be completely done. Now that we’ve exhausted all the projects we can do on our own, we have  begin our long-term investments. These include:

  • New vinyl siding to replace the original wood siding
  • New thermal windows. All of the windows are original to the house and 100% of them have broken seals.
  • Deck refinishing. While the support structure is sound, many of the slats are cracked  and/or bowing. I’d like to replace these with composite slats that are waterproof and weather durable (and also not an ugly brown).
  • New garage doors. Along with the siding, these doors are original, made of wood, and are painted a rather unappealing  antique color.

Most of these projects should be done in the next year and I’m estimating a good $25-28K should cover it. Any idea where to find it?

While I know real estate investments can be very profitable if handled correctly, this house was not meant to be a short investment. We love out house, our neighborhood and our town, and unless something amazing comes around the corner, we are planning on staying in this house for the next 5-10 years. No need to have the return on investment, or how good the market is (or is not), or the what-do-we-do-if-we-have-more-than-two-kids talk.

More photos of the house to come, probably when more family comes to visit and we have to emergency tidy up again…



Birthday Dinner #2

Saturday night, M had a birthday dinner at her home in McLean. It’s such a great house, and she and her S.O. have put a lot of work into it. So for part of her birthday, she has excited to host her first seated dinner party for 13, plus one five-year-old.

The main dinner table with china, crystal glasses and silver. Red tulips in blue glass was the perfect touch.

I was excited to help her set up, and it gave me a chance to use all those non-practical skills: setting up a cocktail bar, flower arranging, cheese platter feng shui…

We set up the bar with champagne glasses, white wine glasses and crystal bar glasses. Along with Vodka and Gin, she had a few beers, white wine and sparkling waters for cocktail hour. M also picked up these pretty glass bottles of Q club soda and tonic water.
For the cheese platters, we got two goat and two cow cheeses. The best was a hard cow’s milk cheese with a black pepper rind. We also got mixed olives, salted nuts and garlic crostini.
The most amazing coconut and raspberry birthday cake from Baked & Wired. Dinner was lasagna from Balducci’s, garlic bread, and salad with Mama Terry’s special dressing.

It was a really great mix of people and great conversation. I will not be hosting any seated dinners with china and crystal anytime soon, but I do have family coming to the house in two weeks. Let’s get out the fresh flowers and deck furniture.

Just kidding, I don’t own deck furniture yet…


Photo: House Mix Blog. I particularly like this checklist. A bit more detailed than Keep, Toss, Donate.

When we moved into our house, it came with some surprises: 20+ cans of old paint, a screen door and a swinging door that now live in our basement, old cabinet doors and windows with removable window panes (???). I still have no idea how central vacuuming works, but we have all the hoses and attachments for those, too.

I finally got a chance to get rid of it all this past week, along with turning off the heat and opening the windows for the first time in forever. Here’s what went down:

  • The window panes were moved and the cabinet doors were tossed. We definitely don’t have a need for an assortment of old cabinet doors. I did keep the panes and two of the larger cabinet doors because they were wood, in good condition and painted white. No idea if they’ll find their way into a project somewhere along the line.
  • We’re in year 2 of resuscitating the back yard. We re-seeded and de-weeded everything, along with cleaning up our side yards overrun with ivy.
  • I cleaned and organized our half basement/garage. We don’t have any built-in shelves, so we brought down a wire rack to keep plant food, weed and yard sprays, and all of the other stray bottles. The tools, mower and trimmer now have a home, along with my furniture refinishing project.
  • A trip to Goodwill and recycling. We have three boxes of stuff in our spare room for Goodwill. I don’t think the recycling center has ever seen so many old paint cans or leftover computer equipment. Our parents are quintessential pack rats, so every time we bring something new into the house, we try to get rid of something as well.
  • Getting this off the counters. When my grandparents remodeled their kitchen last year, they wanted everything to have a place and nothing extraneous would be on the counter tops. We’ve adopted the same mentality.

Minimalism at its best, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Home Inspiration

After we closed on our home, I bought our kitchen table on eBay. The table’s former owner (who was also a UF alum) was redecorating his home and he gave us some pretty good advice. He said, “You’re home is never really ‘done’, and by the time you think it’s done, it’ll be time to move again.”

Now, I don’t feel the rush to buy furniture or art or hang curtains in rooms we don’t go into. But thanks to Pinterest, I have some pretty solid ideas for the next couple years.

Photo: http://www.Arbororiginal.com

We have a two-car garage on the side of the house that has no windows. It’s a flat, three story wall with aged paint siding. I am planning on painting the exterior white (eventually) and adding this arbor. It should break up the space and give it a little color.

Photo: http://www.ladolcevitablog.com

Our front porch is pretty plain, just brick stairs and some outdoor lanterns. I’d love to build out a little portico with columns. It should give the front brickwork a little more character and make our house NOT look like the scary house on the corner in the winter.

Photo: http://www.Southshoredecoratingblog.com

Almost all of our first floor windows are floor to ceiling. While this lets in so much light, it limits our usable space, especially in our breakfast nook. I’d like to change out our tall bay windows for normal sized bay windows, allowing for a banquette.

Photo: Hautelook

It’s not the first time I’ve talked about getting new furniture. If only our current couch wasn’t so nice to nap on. I love the shape of this couch and the fact that it isn’t overstuffed. Our living room is narrow, so big Hemingway furniture can be too bulky. I wouldn’t get rid of our furniture set. It gives Troy hope for a man cave later on in life.

Photo: This is Glamorous

Lastly, this photo looks exactly like our guest bedroom, minus the headboard and comfy linens. While the guest rooms are perpetually “coming along”, one is in desperate need of a headboard. It’s hard to justify buying stuff for a room that rarely gets used. That is until the family visits…later this month…. But that is a blog post for another day.

If you happen to be on Pinterest (instead of working), check out my home board.